Reinhard Bütikofer MEP on the Belarusian border & gas crises

The situation at the Belarusian border and the gas crisis are very much on the EU agenda. German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs coordinator for the Greens/EFA group, has commented:

"The European leaders at their summit are challenged to deal with two blackmailing efforts against the EU which they must reject forcefully.

"Both blackmailing efforts come from east of the EU, one from Belarus, one from Russia. Belarus' dictator Lukashenka intensifies his aggressive human trafficking policy to put pressure on Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the whole EU. The EU must stand firm and united. Enhanced sanctions should make sure that European airlines will cease abetting Lukashenka's policy by doing charter deals with the Belarusian air carrier Belavia. Also, air companies actively supporting Lukashenka's human trafficking should be warned against losing landing rights in the EU. In addition, it would be positive if all three EU member states that share a border with Belarus would accept cooperation with Frontex along that border and would be willing to create the necessary level of transparency regarding the border regime. Illegal pushbacks cannot be condoned.

"The second blackmailing attack against the EU comes from Moscow where President Putin tries to utilise the current gas crisis in order to force EU authorities to grant the Nord Stream 2 project an exception from the strict application of European energy law. Nord Stream 2 has long been a divisive issue inside the EU. It is a project that runs counter to the declared goals of the EU's energy policy and it runs counter to the principle of energy solidarity between member states. European leaders must not allow Putin's blackmail to succeed. Existing pipeline capacity would be more than sufficient to import more Russian gas to EU countries. It is telling that Gazprom rather pays a fine than use the contractually established transport quota through Ukraine. European unity against Putin must be given priority. The burden is on Berlin in particular: Germany's loyalty with Europe must prevail."

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